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Seeing offenses

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  • Seeing offenses

    Hello Venerables!

    I'm wondering what it means when, upon confessing an offense, you're asked "do you see?" Is it whether you understand that what you've done is an offense (presumably yes or you wouldn't confess it), or that you see why transgressing is problematic, or ...?

    Sending my best! Thanks in advance,
    Tracy

  • #2
    Yikes! I hadn't checked this page in such a long time So sorry.
    I will respond to you when I get my brain in gear again.
    Hope you are well!
    Ven Upekkha

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    • #3
      Hi Tracy,

      Great to hear from you!

      When we say "I see, Venerable Lady," we are simply acknowledging that a mistake has been made. We see that we transgressed a particular rule. Hopefully, inherent in that is the understanding of why we keep the rules (i.e. we see the benefit in keeping them and the problems in not keeping them).

      The Vinaya is always practised in the light of the Dhamma. One has to reflect whether one's intentions were wholesome or unwholesome. Was it beneficial to myself and was it beneficial to others? Sometimes if our defilements got the better of us, and we make a mistake, we confess it and move on. At others times, we might have not kept the letter of the rule, but were not motivated by unwholesomeness. For example, we have a minor rule where we are not supposed to offer food to lay people directly from our hand. However, in a non-Buddhist context, this could appear rude. So one might offer a volunteer a cup of tea after a long days work. In this case, one might break the letter of the rule, but keep the spirit of the Dhamma in one's heart. The purpose of the rule was originally that we do not try to gain favours by trading food with the lay people. Offering a cup of tea to a volunteer definitely does not break the spirit of this rule!

      Also with regard to confessions, traditionally in many monasteries a "blanket" confession is made, where monastics confess all possible transgressions that they many have done. In this case, it is difficult to understand the "I see" because how can you confess a mistake that you don't know about? This is why here at Dhammasara blanket confessions are optional.

      May I ask what triggered this question?

      Hope to see you again soon (one day??)

      With metta,
      Ven Upekkha

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      • #4
        Thank you, this is certainly useful! So I'm understanding that saying "I see" is more a continuation of the acknowledgement from confessing the offense to another, making it a little more clear and explicit that it was a transgression. Thanks also for adding the point about this in relation to blanket confessions.

        Absolutely! I can't remember what specifically I was doing when it first came up; it was soon after my last visit and I'd meant to ask the next visit, which obviously hasn't happened yet, and then this forum was down for a little while...probably a combination of getting more into the Vinaya with hearing about clearing offenses from one of Bhante Sujato's talks. I've also since had a few completely unrelated experiences that I was surprised by. One was that I killed a spider while I was attempting to catch and transport it outside. I was surprised both by the strong urge to tell someone about it (no idea where that came from, previously I wouldn't have thought anything of it and put it out of my head, let alone share it!) as well as how there was no lingering negativity once I did tell someone, even before they responded (I can't remember having seen negative feeling vanish so swiftly and completely). These reminded me of clearing offenses and I wondered if there was something related going on.

        > we might have not kept the letter of the rule, but were not motivated by unwholesomeness.

        Are such instances still considered offenses then? It seems in the specific example you give that the non-offenses following the rule don't "help". And if they are still considered an offense, then what does it mean when you acknowledge a mistake was made if you clearly have a "but..." attached to it?

        Can't wait to see y'all again, assuming I don't get run over by a bus first!
        Thanks again! Take good care,
        Tracy

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